Hidden in a basement below the brick building in downtown Riverside is a nifty hideaway known as Blood-Orange Infoshop. Last Wednesday night, music-goers from near and far slowly poured into the venue — commonly known as the BOIS — for the Family Life music show. They were ready for what the hosts called “a night of experimental radness.”
Downtown Riverside is historically known for its unique music and art scene. This venue in particular is literally underground, serving as a unique place where artists and people of all ages are given the opportunity to voice their musical and artistic capabilities. With high historical standards in mind, BOIS definitely had some high requirements to fulfill as a music and art venue.
Entering the dimly lit space, I was surrounded by a plethora of eccentric art pieces ranging from a collage of cutout magazines, to donated paintings, to various posters hanging on the boldly painted walls. By the looks of it, I had entered a space where people were free to express their inner emotions as well as their artistic talents in a do-it-yourself (DIY) atmosphere.
I soon came to the realization that BOIS does in fact manage to live up to the hype as a venue exploding with character. When the first act, Light Light, came on stage, people began to do something I have never seen at a live show before: The audience sat on the floor, bobbing their heads to the strumming of the electric guitar chords and listened intently to the music. Because of this odd arrangement, it became clear that BOIS does not follow the status quo of any normal venue. Instead, I was able to listen to the ambiance of the post-rock music in a more relaxed and laid-back setting. I felt comfortable enough to take a seat, engage in conversation or just listen to music.
The Family Life artists define their music as experimental because it is something that the audience doesn’t hear very often. Unlike radio tunes, these artists strive to compose their music to be unique to the ears of music listeners everywhere. The outcome is almost unpredictable, with musical pieces that are never the same thing twice.
As Infinity Dots took the stage, the dynamic of the show switched from rock to electronic pop. With the use of their keyboards and laptops, the duo was able to get the audience up on its feet and swaying to the synthesized beats of the keyboard. Together the audience flowed as one, with bodies rocking back in forth in unison to the vibrations bursting from the speakers.
BOIS serves as a safe haven for volunteers and frequent visitors. Pierce, a performer who hails from New York and goes by the stage name Sky Mall, stated that this DIY venue is a “more unified scene, more community-based, more people are helping each other out.” Helping each other out when needed is indeed a major factor contributing to the DIY style that the center upholds. One aspect of the venue that should not be overlooked is the “free store” located in the corner of the small space that contains donated clothes, blankets and shoes for anyone to freely grab. Although it’s a small collection of items, this feature adds a stylistic touch to the underground space where giving aid to others is crucial.
Sky Mall, the one-man musical project, has a sound that is heavily influenced by pop dance music. With more of a digitized, mystic groove and steady rhythm, the pieces are easy for anyone with a musical bone in their body to move to. Pierce, as well as all the other artists who performed that night, had a very welcoming and mellow demeanor that allowed the audience to freely talk to the musicians and feel that connection and sense of community that the BOIS brings.
BOIS is solely run with the help of volunteers and members who are dedicated to arts, activism and DIY education. Sam Woods, a volunteer and the host of the event, has a goal for BOIS to “keep the spark and keep it going and available to the public.” A space like BOIS offers so many opportunities for a diverse group of upcoming artists and performers to express their thoughts and emotions.
Whether you are looking to host a movie night, have a meeting or are in need of a stage, the Blood-Orange Infoshop is available to all. Or as a member of Infinity Dots would put it: Blood-Orange is “a venue for the people.”